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A blog by Leon Oudejans

The Maunder Minimum

19 February 2018

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In the 1980s, British PM Margaret Thatcher started warning for global warming. Before, global cooling and a new Ice Age had been the leading themes. This was probably due to the Little Ice Age which is “conventionally defined as a period extending from the 16th to the 19th centuries, but some experts prefer an alternative timespan from about 1300 to about 1850”.

The Little Ice Age showed strange events: a freeze of the Baltic Sea in 1303 and 1306-1307, a Swedish army invading Denmark by marching across the ice in 1658, a 7 week freeze of the river Thames freeze in 1683-84, Viking settlers abandoning Greenland, and “Norwegian farmers demanded that the Danish king recompense them for lands occupied by advancing glaciers“.

One could well argue that even the winters of the 1960s, and especially the one of 1963, still supported global cooling. In 1963, some 5,000 (!!) Dutch automobiles participated in a rally across the enormous IJsselmeer while riding on 70 cm of ice (eg, video 1video 2VK).

In 2015, media warned that “Earth [is] heading for [a] ‘mini ice age’ within 15 years”. This conclusion was based on “research [that] predicted a new solar ‘Maunder minimum‘ in the 2030s” (eg, IFL ScienceTelegraph). A December 2017 scientific study also predicts a Maunder Minimum around 2050 which could, however, start as early as 2030 (Big Think).

Although the number of events is too small for sound statistical conclusions, it’s tempting to connect the timing of a Maunder Minimum with the timing of the Little Ice Age.

The 8 scientifically known causes for climate change are: (#1) strength of the sun, (2) changes in the Earth’s orbit, (3) changes in the orientation of the Earth’s axis of rotation, (#4) quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, (5) carbon dioxide content of the oceans, (6) plate tectonics, (7) ocean currents and (8) vegetation coverage on the land (British Geological Survey).

In a Maunder or Grand Minimum, “we’ll see a 7% reduction in the Sun’s light and heat — and remember, that’s 7% lower than the lowest of the 11 year cycle that we usually see” (Big Think).

It’s unclear whether the new Maunder Minimum (#1) will have a stronger impact than the quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (#4). So far, we have been lucky because the start of a new (mini) Ice Age was delayed at least twice (eg, Bloomberg-2016, NYT-2003).

Climate change is not the exact science that many people think it is. It’s more like a belief system (my 2015 blog). We know little to nothing about most of the known 8 BGS parameters for climate change. The decades following 2030 might be as Cold as Ice – or not.

Cold as Ice (1977) by Foreigner featuring Lou Gramm as lead singer

artists, artist 2, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2Wiki-3

Note: all bold and italic markings by LO

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